Live and Invest recently moved from Paris to Panama and discusses the cost-of-living there."> Live and Invest recently moved from Paris to Panama and discusses the cost-of-living there."/>
Home Panama Forum Panama Guide Panama Resources Panama Real Estate International Jobs



City Guides

CIGNA Expat Health Insurance
Join Sign In
Panama Relocation Tours

Panama More Expensive than Paris?

By Kathleen Peddicord

Summary: Kathleen Peddicord, publisher of Live and Invest recently moved from Paris to Panama and discusses the cost-of-living there.

Panama  - Cost of Living

I suggested he double-check his math. Lief's budget, which he presented to me last week, shows that it will cost more for our little family to be in Panama City, Panama, than it has cost us to be in Paris, France.

How could that be? I asked incredulously.

My husband the accountant assures me his numbers are correct, and, indeed, holding aside the cost of housing, which we're considering separately, it appears our day-to-day cost of living will be higher in Panama than it's been in France.

On the one hand, this is a comment on how affordable Paris can be. This is a place where even a modest lifestyle can feel rich, where the greatest pleasures--strolls along the Seine, afternoons in the Luxembourg Gardens--come gratis.

In Paris, we're happily car-free. We walk nearly everywhere. The butcher, the baker, the grocer, the wine shop, and Jack's school are all less than 15 minutes' walk from our apartment, as are the Tuileries gardens, the Louvre, six movie theaters, and at least a dozen cafes and restaurants. When we want to venture beyond our quartier, we take the metro. For 1.10 euro, we can go anywhere in the city.

Other things in Paris can be cheap, too--for example, telephone, cable, and Internet. Our phone plan, which costs less than 40 euro per month, allows unlimited free calls anytime to anywhere in the United States and anywhere throughout Europe. Hard to beat. Full cable and wireless Internet service cost, in total, less than 70 euro monthly.

On the other hand, in Panama, we'll need a car. Which will mean monthly insurance, gas, and maintenance the cost of a driver, at least while I work up the courage to navigate the streets of that city on my own.

Basic phone, cable, and Internet charges for our rental apartment in Panama City are comparable, in dollar terms, to what we pay in Paris--not including international phone calls, which, again, in Paris, are free to the U.S. and Europe.

In Paris, we pay for heat maybe six months a year. In Panama City, we'll pay for air conditioning year-round.

Groceries are more expensive in Paris, but not dramatically so.

Reviewing Lief's numbers with him, I couldn't argue. For our family, given our lifestyle and what's important to us, day-to-day living costs in Panama City will be slightly more expensive than in Paris.

Then there's housing.

In Paris, you could spend as much as 15,000 euro per square meter to buy an apartment in one of the city's prime neighborhoods and 8,000 euro per month or more to rent one.

You could also buy or rent for considerably less, of course. It depends on what kind of apartment you're in the market for and in which arrondissement you'd like it to be located.

And this is the fundamental point to remember, not only in Paris, but in Panama City...and anywhere.

When we contacted a friend in Panama, a local real estate agent, to begin to explore our housing options, we were surprised by his initial response. He told us about places for rent for $8,000 a month and for sale for $550,000, $800,000, even a million dollars and more.

In Panama City?

I know of people renting apartments in this city for less than $500 a month, and Lief told me the other day about a woman he knows who has just bought a resale apartment, off the water, in an out-of-the-way neighborhood, for less than $1,200 per square meter.

I'm going to show my biases by admitting that I don't think I'd want to live in any apartment renting today in Panama City for less than $500 per month. That's not to say it's not a viable option.

Neither do I, to Lief's relief, want to rent for $8,000 a month. Our agent friend assumed we wanted to be in one of "the" neighborhoods in the city. Lief says I'm picky...but I'm not that picky.

We're putting aside purchase options, right now, and focusing on rentals, for two reasons. First, moving to a new place, it's always wiser to rent for a while before committing to a purchase. The truth is, today, we don't have any idea which of Panama City's neighborhoods makes most sense for us.

In addition, I don't think this is the time to buy in this city, not in any neighborhood. The for-sale market has softened and will continue to do so. Better to rent and to watch.

Kathleen Peddicord

P.S. I introduced you last week to Jay Snyder, who is spending part of each year in Granada, Nicaragua. Jay shared with me his budget for life in that city. He estimates it costs about $1,200 per month, including a housekeeper, to live a comfortable life here. This does not include the cost of housing. Again, it's best to consider this separately, because it can be as much or as little as you want it to be.

P.P.S. Our agent friend in Panama understood when we explained that we don't need to be located in the city's best districts and we don't want to spend anything like $8,000 per month in rent. He also gave us some good advice:

"Wait until you arrive in July," he suggested, "before you begin your search in earnest. The Panama City market is so active right now that rentals are snatched up overnight. You've got to be in the city, ready to act as soon as a good one becomes available."

Join our Panama Expat Forum

Visit our Panama Forum and talk with other expats who can offer you insight and tips about living in Panama.

Read Next

Best Places to Live Overseas: Costa Rica vs. Panama

When expats consider a move to Central America, there are more and more options available to them. Often, the conversation will turn to Costa Rica vs. Panama. Read what expats who have lived in both of these countries have to say.

11 Expats Talk about Living in Boquete, Panama

11 expats talk about what it's like to live in the beautiful mountain town of Boquete, Panama. From the Tuesday Market at the BCP to group hikes and drinks at Mike's Global Grill, expats love living in Boquete.

International Schools in Panama

Expats with children who explore the possibility of moving to Panama first and foremost want to know what educational options are available there. Here is a great start on exploring the options in Panama City... and beyond.

Expats in Panama: Pros and Cons of Living in Panama

Expats in Panama talks about the pros and cons of living in Panama. Topics include the lower cost of living, bureaucracy, friendly people. Expats in Panama seem to agree that you'll have to come down and explore the country to find out if it's the right place for you!

13 Important Tips for Retirees in Panama

If you're thinking about retiring in Panama, here are 13 things you must know before you make the move.

About the Author

After more then 22 years as Editor and Publisher of International Living, Kathleen Peddicord is now Publisher of Live and Invest and Editor of the group's FREE weekly e-letter, the Overseas Opportunity Letter, detailing the best opportunities worldwide right now for living, retiring, investing, owning real estate and doing business. Nobody covers this beat better.

AGS Worldwide Movers

Write a Comment about this Article

Sign In to post a comment.

Comments about this Article

Jul 21, 2013 19:33

How can I find out if there are any Social Services for Americans, that move Panama or Paris? By the way which is cheaper Paris or Spain. Of course all of these places would be on the outskirts of town. Thank you. Charlene

Nov 26, 2013 17:43

Hello Kathleen, You should try other cities in Panama, what about Boquete, Volcan, David. Is good to give it a try. Chiriqui province is much more inexpensive than the capital city, the beach area is only 30 minutes from David, and highlands is also 30 minutes from David. Food is much cheaper in Chiriqui. Welcome to Panama !!! If you have any question, don´t hesitate to contact us. Visas Panama Tel: 6643-7000 (whatsapp)

First Published: Apr 26, 2008

Join Today (free)

Join Expat Exchange to meet expats in your area or get advice before your move. It's FREE and takes 1 minute!

Panama Guide
Other Links
Our Story Our Team Contact Us Submit an Article Advertising Travel Warnings

Copyright 1997-2018 Burlingame Interactive, Inc.

Privacy Policy Legal